Dr Mallie Coyne
I am really passionate about supporting the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal as I have seen the incredible benefits it has afforded my children in creating a shoebox each Christmas to gift to someone in Eastern Europe or Africa, in that they build a meaningful and tangible connection with another child, which helps them to feel a deep sense of wellbeing and purpose.
A growing body of research indicates a strong link between volunteering and a child’s emotional wellbeing. Study after study has shown that volunteering improves our mental health. Being kind and showing altruism for others boosts serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing, a phenomenon also known as a “helper’s high”. It reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, and increases happiness. These benefits are especially significant for children today who are at risk of developing anxiety and depression at younger ages, due in part to increased stressors and a feeling of powerlessness in their own lives. In a world which can often feel topsy-turvy for children, involving your child in creating a shoebox empowers them to make a real and tangible difference in another child’s life.
Gifting a shoebox of is a ‘WIN-WIN’ for both the giver and the receiver, in that the giver feels a sense of purpose and wellbeing, connection to community, a sense of perspective on life and an appreciation for life’s blessings; whilst the receiver benefits from knowing they are ‘held in mind’ by another child who values them in their common humanity.
The Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal holds a special place in my heart. I hope that every parent in Ireland encourages their child to create a shoebox for another child, which will have a lasting positive impact on your child’s wellbeing and encourage a spirit of volunteerism and giving to others for many years to come. Whilst my children love creating the physical boxes, there is also the option of creating a shoebox online, so participating in this appeal is now easier than ever. Try it out this year and see the rewards for yourself!